Saturday, September 7, 2013

Best Practices By Educational Technology Leaders

This blog is written in honor of those leaders who have developed a style that furthers educational technology and improves academic outcomes for students.

  1. Build leadership.
    Look for leadership in those around you from administration to students and build their capacity.  Guide them to further understanding and development of technology integration skills and encourage their growth.  These leaders will be your voice when you aren't available and will carry the message of the power of technology to support learning to those they work with.
  2. Concern yourself with growth.
    Have confidence that your own accomplishments will serve as models for those you lead.  Focus not on ensuring you are recognized but rather on the growth of technology as an educational tool.  Support others in their own accomplishments in the field and know that, in doing so, you have furthered the goals and likelihood that educational technology will be advanced.
  3. Nurture others.
    Educational technology development often requires a nurturing approach.  Recognize even the smallest accomplishments in the field for those just learning how to integrate technology and be sure that these folks are aware of their growth.  Encouragement is a key approach as many educators feel intimidated by technology and lack confidence in their own abilities.  Like a good teacher with their students in the classroom, acknowledge, share, and have pride in your coworkers and teachers as they reach milestones in their ability to integrate technology.
  4. Model best practices in educational technology.
    As you use technology in the educational setting, model best practices in even the seemingly small areas to the most obvious areas.  Email duties are often the nemesis of a leader who is overwhelmed with the amount they find in their inbox.  Yet, the very best educational leaders seem to find a way to ensure that emails are answered and in an appropriate manner.  In your emails, respond promptly and answer every question asked.  Never use one-word responses as they imply to your reader that you don't value their question enough to respond in a way that indicates their question was important to you.  In fact, one-word answers tells your reader the opposite - that your question was a bother and discourages future interaction.  Similarly, the best leaders answer every email from those that they lead.  They recognize that the fact that someone is interacting with them about educational technology is growth and they want to develop and encourage that growth.  They strive to ensure that those who write them know that they are valued and a response is always in order.  In the same way, the best leaders do the simple things. They have professional email signatures, incorporate great tools used by the district or organization in their own work and presentations, provide a plethora of resource opportunities to get the information they share, they take carefully considered risks, and are willing to ask for help when needed.  All of these things model the desired activities of teachers when working with their students and their parents.
  5. Build relationships with those around you.
    The best educational technology leaders build relationships with those around them and those whose lives they affect.  They are willing to get in the trenches with staff members setting up a presentation as well as enjoying a work lunch with colleagues.  They show genuine concern for those they talk to and acknowledge that everyone has a life outside of the workplace.  Probably most importantly, they bring a sense of humor to the workplace.  Laughter is a great team builder and the great leader knows how to use it to build a safe and enjoyable environment.  Using this approach, those you lead want to support and further your goals - the goal of increasing technology integration to further academic success.  This environment motivates and strengthens the overall goals and increases the opportunity for success.
Dedication:  This post is dedicated to Micha Villarreal, Director of Innovative Learning at Ysleta ISD in El Paso, Texas.  Micha is a gifted educator and exceptional leader who inspires and motivates me even five years after my last opportunity to work with her at YISD.